Argumentation in primary science

Shirley Simon's talk at CALRG09

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Patrick McAndrew
19 May 2009

Shirley Simon has been working in argumentation in science education for several years. She is building from Toulmin's levels of discussion to look at what happens in classrooms. Using homes for gerbils as the content for discussion using a way to bring out different kinds of episode together with a mapping of the argumentation in columns. A second project developed software called Digalo (at least superficially rather like Compendium). used for lesson plans and linked to concept cartoons that posed questions. The students would then use Digalo to pose and connect ideas with grounds and evidence. It sounded like it work quite well but did not necessarily help develop deeper argument. The same Digalo software was deployed in a science exhibit - there was positive feedback but again the actual arguments were variable, perhaps because of too much complexity in the questions asked.
The summary was that there is complexity within small group argumentation but a Toulmin-based perspective had helped in evaluation of the tools.

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